Let me see if I have this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, and fill their waking moment with love for learning. Not only that, but I am also to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify disruptive behaviour and observe them for signs of abuse.
I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns and knives and raise their self-esteem. I am to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play; how to balance a cheque book and how to apply for a job.
I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behaviour, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others and, oh yes, teach, always making sure I give the girls in my class 50 per cent of my attention.
I am required by my contract to work on my own time (summers and evenings) and at my own expense toward additional certification and a master’s degree, to sponsor the cheerleaders, or the sophomore class (my choice). After school, I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my current certification and employment status.
I am to be a paragon of virtue, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, a bulletin board and a few books (some of which I may have to purchase myself). And for doing this, I am to be paid a starting salary that, in some states, qualifies my family for food stamps.
“Is that all?”